You could drive a ute down the urban-rural divide

Claire Inkson

As a daughter of a passionate farmer and having been in various farming groups over the years I have witnessed the discussion about the existence of urban-rural divide and how to fix it if it does exist.

It was never going to be an easy fix.

The current Government has potentially increased the gulf by introducing policies so ridiculous and out of touch with their constituents, those at the coal face of keeping our economy burning, it’s almost incomprehensible.

The kind of policies that unite different sectors in a collective slow-burning rage.

The latest divisive piece of legislation is the levies on utes to subsidise discount incentives on electric vehicles.

This latest gem will be rolled out in January adding a cost of around $3000 to the purchase of vehicles such as a Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux.

The issue that sits at odds with common sense is these are the essential vehicles for tradies and farmers alike – the workers tasked with leading the post-lockdown economic recovery with international tourism off the table.

With no electric alternative on the horizon until the end of the decade, those whose work relies on the use of such vehicles are being penalised.

Despite opposition from the primary sector, including Federated Farmers request for an exemption for farm vehicles, Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern has indicated that the Government will not budge.

Comments made by Jacinda Ardern and Green MP Julie Ann Genter allude to an underlying contempt for those who choose to work in the gritty real world than in the heated comfort of pen-pushing parliament.

Ardern commented that many utes and 4WD vehicles were solely for recreational use and therefore any exemptions were dismissed.

Genter tweeted that Ford Rangers were marketed as “all about lifestyle and status for men who want to feel more masculine”, turning the legitimate concerns of an industry into some kind of feminist discourse – which it isn’t.

Utes are not and have never been just a male domain.

Every farming family I know has one, and in every instance, wives use these vehicles as much as their husbands.

There is an intense rumbling of discontent about not only the electric vehicle scheme, but other unworkable policy in general, rising from the paddocks and building sites across the country at a grassroots level.

That discontent is coming together on July 16 with the Howl of a Protest event which presents an opportunity for those of us who are fed up with unworkable and impractical policy to bring their utes, tractors and dogs together in a collaborative and loud demonstration of objection.

Hopefully the noise will break through the buzz at the Beehive.

– By Claire Inkson


Claire Inkson is an award-winning freelance photographer and blogger who is passionate about telling the stories of our people and landscapes through both these mediums. The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of the Ashburton Guardian Co Ltd or any employee thereof